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Foreign Physicians Becoming Nurses

Nurses are in such short supply here that hospitals are looking abroad to fill the gap--offering record salaries and signing bonuses. And in the Philippines, economic malaise and political instability have many physicians leaving to become nurses in the United States. Several nursing schools in the Philippines have recently started fast-track degree programs for physicians. The Philippines, which produces many more nurses than can be employed at home, has long been the biggest supplier of foreign-born nurses to the United States.

A nursing degree has long been the fastest way out of the Philippines. Part of the U.S. colonial legacy is a medical system that mirrors that of the United States. Nurses are trained in English rather than Tagalog and use many of the same textbooks as U.S. schools. Only 4 percent of the 2.2 million nurses in the United States are foreign-trained; Filipinos account for 43 percent of them. In one Phillipine province with a population 1.2 million, 10 doctors recently completed nursing school and left the country. They included the heads of pediatrics and internal medicine at the main government hospital.

Los Angeles Times January 10, 2004

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